¡Hola, amigos! Mario here, coming at you from one of Thrive’s farms in Costa Rica.
This means that the ecosystem (people, plants, planet) is better off because of what we do and how we do it. That model starts with regenerative agriculture, in the dirt of our farms in Costa Rica.
We believe that plants nourished by happy soil, are simply better. Because when soil is thriving, richer in nutrients, so are the plants borne from it. And therefore, truly natural skincare products made from those plants is that much more effective.
This month, while we harvest the thriving batch of Juanilama and Fierrillo on our farms for that awesome skincare you expect from us, we’re actually harvesting the results of soil that is literally living and breathing, full of nutrients and microorganisms.
A Better Face Wash Starts With Better Soil
Why do we do it? Why care for soil? For one, we are losing more and more fertile land across the world every year, in the last 40 years we’ve lost about a third of it.
I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a frightening statistic.
Not just because we depend on fertile land for food production, but also because the quality of anything we grow depends on soil health.
Instead of just being frightened, we decided to do something about this. To create more fertile land by focusing much of our regenerative agriculture processes on improving soil health.
For example, in my first blog (did you read it?) I talked about planting a unique plant species, Tithonia diversifolia, alongside our product ingredients so we could use its organic matter for soil enrichment. It worked wonderfully well. In that particular case we wanted to increase phosphorus levels (which we did).
Native plant species also drive biodiversity in the ecosystem. Birds, bees, butterflies, and even possums! Yes, we had a family of possums move in at one point. Our farmer, Don Juan, let them be until they moved on to better real estate.
Maybe they’ll be back, maybe not. But as we welcome more life onto our farms, I can’t help but think of the organisms in that soil whose underground home is also made that much healthier to live in.
One teaspoon of soil can contain 1 billion living bacteria. That’s a lot of happy campers. And they’re not just chilling in there doing nothing. Those organisms play an important role, whether its nutrient cycling, water filtration or even erosion prevention.
Keeping those soil organisms, well, stoked on life, is essential to our plant health (and performance), to our farmer’s livelihood, and therefore to our business. That’s why we make the effort year round to care for our soil.
What Is Happy Soil?
It can be difficult to quantify exactly what “healthy” soil means because soil composition itself, from one square meter to the next, can be so unique.
Instead of chemicals, which will stay with the plants through harvest, we use native plant species such as Fierrillo (scientific name Fridericia chica) to improve soil resilience. Its high leaf production, for example, puts more organic matter into the soil (fallen leaves), improving its vitality. In other words, we tap into the natural cycle of nutrients which Nature has already so beautifully designed.
We measure soil health in part by examining its Soil Organic Matter (SOM) content. Over the past four years we’ve been steadily improving on this metric.
Of course, plant productivity is another way we can actually see that life must be good in the soil. We’ve noticed a huge acceleration in the average monthly plant growth of Fierrillo (see chart) over the years.
At harvest time, the busier we are, the better. Because that means we have more Fierrillo and Juanilama to harvest, and that the soil is rocking the nutrients that make it all happen. This year, I’m happy to say that harvest is as busy as it has ever been.
Harvesting Happy Dirt To Create A Clean Face Wash For Men
Thrive Face Wash for Men was one of our first products. An initial proof that from healthy soil, come happy plants, and from happy plants, the best ingredients for effective, truly natural skincare. We now have seven products, including a Shave Oil, a Grooming Oil, and even solutions for sensitive skin.
Expanding our number of products means expanding our regenerative farming efforts. Planting more native species, watching more insects, birds, and other animals join the fun, together creating healthier soil and therefore more powerful plants.
The result in each of those new and original products? Highly potent, plant-based ingredients for high performance skincare that honors Nature’s intelligence and truly benefits your skin.
At harvest time I reflect on this journey, and all farm-to-face benefits of our regenerative model, from human health to the environment.
Our customers enjoy high-performance, natural skincare.
Our farmers enjoy farmland that gets healthier with every harvest.
Our plants grow and multiply in their natural environment.
Our soil and all its inhabitants thrive as they nourish this entire process.
In this web of benefits it’s clear to me where the foundation lies.
It’s been a wild four years so far and I’ve learned a lot. There’s still much to learn, but I know that as long as we keep harvesting the benefits of happy soil, the rest of the cycle will also be as healthy as ever.
Because what also fuels this cycle, what makes it a cycle, is you. The customer. Choosing to buy “regenerative” natural skincare (that works!) keeps that cycle moving. And with every complete cycle, the world keeps on getting a little bit better. One lump of soil, one powerful plant, one dose of Thrive, at a time.
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We didn’t start out to just make a sunscreen. We wanted a daily moisturizer that also delivered strong sun protection. It was a “let’s make fewer products, but more solutions” type of approach.
A moisturizer that also SPFs. And helps heal hard-working skin.
By employing the principles and practices of regenerative farming, we produce the most potent natural ingredients while also improving our farmlands, the lives of farmers, and even playing a role in reversing climate change.
Thrive's got some adventurous goals of our own this year. We don’t expect to change the world in one trip around the sun. But we want to make sure the stepping stones are ambitious so that each trip is even better than the last.